No Ploy, Forever Poi

It’s Rey, hey!  My turn to invite you to invest 99 cents in the Forever Poi promo, running today thru the 13th.   No game, no joke – a mere 99 cents (woo-hoo).

Poi is our third case as Oahu P.I.s  For those who aren’t familiar with us, we’re private eyes from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency, which has proven pretty successful since we opened, if I do say so myself . . . and I do.

The case: figure out who burned down two art galleries.  And, given there were two bodies found in the rubble, learn who killed them . . .  coz as sure as the sun rises in the east, they weren’t victims of the fire.  They were murdered.  Question: was the fire set to cover up the killings?  Or were they two distinct, different crimes?

There’s a curious cast of characters/culprits, including (but not limited to):

♠   aspiring art manager and former queenpin    ♠   self-absorbed, now-single gallery owner    ♠   local torch    ♠   stunning femme fatale    ♠   devoted lover(s) of femme fatale    ♠   resentful ex-hubbies     ♠   upcoming (and kinda weird) artist.

We’d love it if you checked us out (and really love it if you maybe, kinda, would review it, please, please, please)?


What a Joy – Forever Poi

… at 99 cents, that’s a simple joy, wouldn’t you say?  It’s Linda today.

From the 9th through the 13th, you can get the Triple Threat Investigation Agency’s third case—Forever Poi—for less than a dollar.

JJ, Rey, and I are hired by our new insurance adjuster friend, Xavier Shillingford, to determine who torched two upscale art galleries.  Sadly, a couple of bodies were found in the rubble: one of the owners and an aspiring art manager (also a queenpin in another life).

Are the arsonist and killer the same person?  And what about the motive?  Lover spurned?  Partner angry?  Insurance money?  Spite/vengeance?  In the search for answers, we encounter a few possible reasons, and several potential culprits.  Unfortunately, one or two of those ends up dead, which quickly removes them from the suspect list.  But there’s always someone else to add.

It’s as complicated a case as it is baffling, and we really have to work hard to figure out who’s who and what’s what.  Happily, we enjoy putting puzzle pieces together—even one of those 10,000-piece ones.  He-he-he.

Maybe you’d like to find out how we fare?  If so, please check us out here …

No Hocus Pocus to Focus

It’s JJ, hey (that so riles Rey when I do that, he-he).  The Boss is busy, so I volunteered to post today.  There are so many things one can write about—too many—so I had to give some thought to what’s on my mind these days. 

Staying focused (don’t ask why).  There’s no magic to finding your focus; it’s something you do.  I love this quote from Mark Twain, which I believe lends itself nicely to the intent of this post.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” 

Simply stated, yet perhaps not as simply done.  Nevertheless, the only way to make something happen, is to get started: focus, concentrate, encourage and inspire yourself.  Determine what it is you want or need to get done, plan it and do it.  And I’m not referring to writing, but anything you may desire to embrace in your life or hope to take up.

Rey and Linda and I put our heads together and came up with some ideas, hardly new and innovative ones, but definitely recognized and utilized.  These are in no order of importance or requirement. 

This doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.  Have a list and/or schedule.  Rey will attest to this, that having something planned or programed doesn’t work, as she prefers to be spontaneous.  I, on the other hand, will have a to-do list, while Linda will have a thorough agenda/timetable.  A plan of some sort, even if merely a few jotted points—key points or tasks—is worth taking the time to record, to serve as “reminders to be completed”. 

In terms of the recording the task [an all-encompassing word that sounds less cumbersome than “job” or “chore”], consider:

♦   what it is you want to accomplish / see done    ♦    the time factor involved (what is it and how does it need to be approached—over several hours, days) and schedule accordingly.

If you’re about to engage in said task—you’re striving to get that focus, uh, focused—make sure there are no distractions.  Depending on what you’re intending to do, find a quiet place and make sure you don’t have your phone around (it’s way too easy to find excuses to chat or text).  Avoid social media—unless that happens to be your focus, of course.

If you live with others, ask that they kindly respect your need for solitude for an hour, or whatever time you’ve allotted for yourself.

I like a Red Bull when I’m hunkering down to do something, but maybe a latte, coffee, or tea will do it for you.  Caffeine gives [me] that extra little “boost” of energy and, yes, clarity.

Take a break—to stretch your legs, grab a [wholesome] snack, re-focus—but don’t make it too long; otherwise, you may become unfocused.  But five minutes here and there can prove beneficial.

If there are a number of tasks, arrange them in terms of priority and similarity.  Given my own experience(s), I suggest [strongly] you don’t try to do a number at once.  One at a time—with full focus—works best.

There’s no hocus pocus, or magic trick; it’s a bit of logic (planning and approach), a touch of commitment/perseverance (sticking with it), and a little determination (it will get done).


One More Rah-Rah . . . HA-HA-HA-HA

Hey, it’s Rey today.  The Boss has a number of meetings/calls going on this week related to her personal life.  Linda’s doing volunteer work and JJ’s having lunch with an old high-school friend who flew in for a week with her new hubby.  So-o, that leaves me to post. 

I’m just gonna keep it short and sweet . . . and remind you that our fourth official case HA-HA-HA-HA (the fifth book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series) is now avail. 

Although it’s not an official [as in paying] case, a serial killer who calls himself GrimReaperPeeper (we call him GRP), has decided he wants us to play his game—by his rules.  But the game keeps changing!  How’s a P.I. (or three) gonna cope?

He keeps JJ, Linda and me on our toes, to be sure, as we try to discover just who this crazy, calculating dude is.  And why does he leave black roses pinned to his tortured victims, who are always found along streams and waterways. 

A couple of other cases come our way: find out who is stalking our pretty client and if hunky hubby is having an affair or five.  Then another curious thing happens—it seems that there may be links between these two cases and the killing sprees.

Here’s an excerpt, as told courtesy of my cousin, JJ.

“Nice flowers,” Rey commented, peering over my shoulder at the gold-flecked carton that had just arrived at the agency. 

It was a few minutes before noon and Linda had joined Mink for a casual lunch in the doggy-wear designer’s office.  I’d declined as I’d already picked up shrimp wonton mein at a noodle house not far down the street and Rey had passed with a monotone “not hungry”.  Whether that was because she wasn’t a fan of Mink or the fact her BFF and Mink were becoming good pals remained to be seen.

She dropped onto the rattan sofa beside me with a thud.

“Hey, we can’t afford to replace broken furniture,” I chided.

“You going to open that?”  She poked the carton with a long apple-red fingernail.

“My, my, my.  Aren’t we curious?”

“We are.  Now, open it!”

Chuckling, I untied the satin ribbon.  Inside, wrapped in lightweight tissue were twelve long-stem crimson roses.

“Nice.”  Her tone was flat, her gaze narrowed.  “What about the card?”

I passed it.  “You do the honors.”

She unsealed the small gilt-edged envelope like a pro.  “Lovely flowers for lovely ladies.”  She turned it over and shrugged.  “Looks like you have—hold on, it says ‘ladies’.  But the delivery was to you.”

“Looks like we have a secret admirer.”

She frowned.  “They’re roses.”

“But they’re not black,” I said with a tight smile.

Her frown deepened.  “You think they might be from GRP?”

“It’s possible, but I’d expect him to enclose a taunting or sinister message.  And the flowers would be black, or close to.”  I shrugged.  “These could be from a former client or a mischievous friend.”

“Our friends don’t have money to blow on high-end roses,” she stated, eyeing them circumspectly.  “Maybe a client.”

I stood.  “May as well put them in a vase.”

“We don’t have one.”

“Then I’ll run down to the little trading shop next door and buy one.  They’re too pretty to let wither.”

“Take ‘em home.”  She smiled faintly.  “The place could use some color.”

“They still need water until we leave.”

She shrugged and started to remove them from the box—and shrieked.  “Shit!  I forgot about thorns.”

But it wasn’t a thorn that was sticking from a bleeding finger when she held it up—but a mini razor blade for a snap-blade knife.

She looked at me crossly.  “You were sayin’ something about friends?”

You can check us out here . . . and we would so love it (!!!) if you’d consider doing a review, should you decide to check us out, of course.

HA-HA-HA-HA . . . The Laugh’s on Me

The fifth book, HA-HA-HA-HA, in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency is officially available—someone posted me to say they’d bought a copy!  <LOL>  How out of it can one be?! The private eyes—JJ, Rey, and Linda—are enthralled.  And I’m both embarrassed and excited (embarrassed because I should be on top of it, and networking/promoting, but excited because, hey, it’s out!!!!). 


HA-HA-HA-HA finds the trio on a serial killer’s buddy list.  When he’s not taunting them, he’s challenging them to “play the game”—by his rules. 

The GrimReaperPeeper, as he introduced himself in a teasing text at the end of Forever Poi, proves to be as intelligent as he is devious and dangerous.  GRP, as they prefer to call him, leaves calling cards—on windows, with a boy on the beach, in a neighbor’s foyer.  And, unfortunately for our private eyes—but fortunately for him—DNA and fingerprints are never found.  They add clever and cunning to the description list.

Although it’s not an official [paying] case, GRP’s obsession with them yanks them into the chaos and holds them there.  As they attempt to figure out who he is and why he leaves black roses with his tortured victims (always found along streams and waterways), they accept a couple of other cases.  It soon seems evident that there may be a link or two between these cases and the killings; they simply have to figure it out.

Perhaps you’d like to discover how the pretty gals from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency do, going head-to-head with a crafty serial killer and dealing with his bizarre fixation with them . . .

Dialogue Tags, You Say?

Another short give-thought-to post, this one about dialogue tags (again).  

Notice the difference:

He said, “I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”

“I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly,” he said.

Either one is fine.  They could, of course <he-he> use a bit more description, such as:

Narrowing his beetle-black eyes, he said solemnly, “I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”

“I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly,” he said solemnly, narrowing his beetle-black eyes.

What we don’t want to see?

He said.  “I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”

“I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”  He said.

Only capitalize if the dialogue tag can sit on its own as a sentence.  As a tag, it takes a comma.

So, no to:

“He’ll be attending the festivities.”  Sally said.

But yes to . . .

“He’ll be attending the festivities,” Sally smiled.

“He’ll be attending the festivities.” Sally smiled.

Both work in this case.  Why?  In the first tag, she’s smiling as she’s saying this.  In the second, she smiles after she says this.

And tags don’t necessarily have to go at the end or the beginning; they can go in the middle.

“He’ll be attending the festivities,” Sally explained, “and then leaving for Paris on the midnight flight.”

We’ll return to dialogue tags again as they seem to be a “nebulous” area for some.  

Like this post, keep it simple . . . and always check on-line when in doubt.  Ensure your final product—yes, I say this a lot, but it’s so very true—is as professional as it can be.

The Awesome Realm of Adverbs & Adjectives

Adding adverbs and adjectives—not in overabundance, but within reason—enables readers to more readily visualize the action and characters.  They detract from the flatness of the “he said” and “she said” dialogue tags, and the “she walked across the room” and “he looked at her” type of sentences.

Consider the examples below.  With the addition of an adverb or adjective, or two, don’t they offer more “images” into what is transpiring, how someone is feeling?

“I’m visiting Darren later,” Martha said with a smile.

1.    “I’m visiting Darren later,” Martha smiled sunnily.

2.    “I’m visiting Darren later,” Martha smiled darkly.

3.    “I’m visiting Darren later,” Martha said flatly with a fleeting smile.

4.    “I’m visiting Darren later.” Martha offered a patient smile.

Example 1 suggests Martha’s happy, looking forward to seeing Darren while example 2 says she’s not happy to be doing so.  In the third one, Martha seems uncommitted; she doesn’t really care one way or the other and the fourth indicates a number of things, but more than likely, she doesn’t care for the question and doesn’t want to give a detailed answer, or she’s heard the question before and is repeating the response.  It’s all in the interpretation.

Jeremy looked at Doris and smiled.

1.    Jeremy eyed Doris closely and smiled warmly.

2.    Jeremy scanned Doris from head to foot and offered a flat smile.

3.    Jeremy regarded Doris for several seconds, then smiled fleetingly.

4.    Jeremy stared at Doris with a cool smile.

Example 1 suggests Jeremy likes what he sees, or is pleased with Doris’ reaction, and responds accordingly.  The second example tells us Jeremy isn’t overly pleased with her and the third one has a similar connotation.  Example 4 implies he’s annoyed with Doris, or is angry perhaps.  Again, it’s all in the interpretation.

Just how many ways can we smile?

happily bleakly angrily stoically sadly
cheerfully merrily bittersweetly patiently peevishly
dully smugly blissfully thankfully grimly

And what type of smile might we provide?

happy bleak angry stoic sad
cheerful merry bittersweet patient dull
impatient enthusiastic blissful thankful grim

Just how many ways might a character have “said” something?

cheerfully slowly aloofly frostily eagerly
uncaringly warmly morosely earnestly pointedly
quickly harshly easily callously kindly

The sky’s the limit.  Choose the right adverb/adjective for the situation and action—right as in mood/feeling and in meaning (it’s amazing—and not in a good way—how many people seem to pull a word from the thesaurus without checking its definition).  As I always say, be as professional as possible.

Adverbs and adjectives can truly add so much to a story . . . as long as the writer doesn’t add too much, as in too many.

Remember: everything in moderation.

He/She/It . . . Did . . . Again?

Show, don’t tell is a pretty common expression when it come to the world of writing.  Good “advice”.  Too bad not all [new] writers embrace it. 

Sally looked down the trail and then started walking along it.  She was tired of walking.  She saw a stream.  She got onto her knees and dipped her hands in the cool water.  She cupped some water and sipped thirstily.  When she had her fill, she stood up and looked northward.  She then walked along the trail toward the hills. 

A lot of “she” did something, but nothing terribly descriptive or detailed is presented.  It’s pretty flat and wouldn’t entice a reader to continue reading, unless said reader was using the book as bedtime reading (to prompt a few quick zzzzzs).

Not that you should add copious amounts of details—that could become equally annoying and lend itself to a different degree of dullness. 

Pretty, young Sally looked anxiously down the winding, dusty trail that went for as far as the eye could see, and then started walking quickly along its narrow, pebble-filled path.  She was tired of walking and having to keep a watchful eye.  She saw a curving, burbling stream about twenty yards ahead and left the trail to walk along the prickly plants and high weeds and wizened shrubs.  She got onto her jean-covered knees and dipped her dry, scratched hands in the cool rippling water.  She cupped some refreshing-looking water and sipped thirstily.  When she had her fill, and felt better, she stood up and looked northward toward the small, tree-lined hills.  She then walked returned to the welcome, winding trail and headed toward the beckoning hills. 

More description and details provide more visuals—but be mindful of how much is added and whether it’s truly useful.  Does it enhance the story/plot/action?  Does it create clear pictures, deliver snapshots?

Sally’s pretty face creased with worry when she reached an endless, winding trail.  May as well go for it, she decided.  Quickly yet cautiously, she picked her way along the pebble-filled path.  Twenty yards ahead burbled a serpentine stream lined with prickly plants, tall weeds and wizened shrubs.  Dropping to her knees, her scratched hands cupped cool water.  She drank deeply and when her thirst finally eased, she stood.  Brushing dust and grit from her worn, dirty jeans, she returned to the trail, determined to head northward—to the beckoning tree-dense hills in the not-too-far distance. 

Somewhat better . . .yes?  Writing a book with “she did”, “he did”, “it did” as the frequent action is rather like characters having “said” something 10-15 times on one page.  Uneventful.  Static.  Uninspiring. 

Editing/proofing isn’t fun for most people (I get that), but it is a necessity.  Take some time to read aloud what’s gracing the screen.  Does it sound good?  Honestly good?  Writers’ egos are fragile things (this I can attest to) and, perhaps, there’s a fear factor involved when it comes to correcting material, be it by someone else or oneself. 

But consider this: one doesn’t perfect one’s craft if one isn’t willing to question and challenge, and develop it.

It’s JJ on the last day of the 99-cent promotion for Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie?  . . .

Hula is our first professional (paying) case that we—the three private investigators of the Oahu-based Triple Threat Investigation Agency—undertake.

Given we’re newbies, we do pretty well . . . okay, maybe we make a few mistakes and get ourselves into some seriously sticky situations . . . but we learn along the way.

An elderly millionaire hires Rey, Linda and me to find out what his young, pretty wife is doing when she’s not at home.  He believes she’s having an affair—and, given he’s looking at a divorce, this would help his cause immensely. 

Before we can discover whether she’s involved with anyone (like her personal trainer or the “pool boy”), we find her floating in the Pacific at the base of some cliffs.  Any number of people might have been responsible, so we have our work cut out for us. =

A few more bodies drop.  As they do, we attempt to help a young drug addict, does deal with an ornery drug dealer or two, and encounter some mean-tempered gang members.

This first case proves complicated, but we endeavor to put the pieces of the complex puzzle together.  Perhaps you’d like to find out how we accomplish this?

You can find Hula here . . .

Ninety-Nine – Please Don’t Decline

It’s Rey again.  Hey, how ya doin’ on this gorgeous Sunday?  For two more days you can get Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? for a mere 99 cents.  How can you decline an offer like that, I ask ya.

Hula is our first professional case as private eyes of our newly founded Triple Threat Investigation Agency.  A rich old guy hires us to find out what his young, pretty wife is up to.  He thinks she’s having an affair, which would help him in the divorce department.  Given her looks and history, we’re inclined to agree.

Before we can discover anything, though, we find her in the ocean—and she ain’t swimming.  Did the old guy kill her?  If so, then why hire us?  Maybe it was a lover?  Or her twin brother—the one with a dicey past?

A few more bodies cross our path . . . as do drug dealers, gang members, and a druggie . . . not to mention a zany person or two.  Our first case is anything but simple, but we give it our best (we may be new to the P.I. world, but “sticktoitiveness” is our middle names).

What we’d unearthed in the preceding days extended to the sordid world of drugs and gambling, two ugly and dangerous addictions that could drag you under and far like the Molaka’i Express, which was the crossing of the Kaiwi Channel from volcano-formed Molaka’i, Hawaii’s fifth largest island, and possessed exceptionally strong currents. If the vice didn’t batter you, the enabler—the human component—was there to ensure you remained dependent, paid up and/or stayed high, and never screwed him or her.

“Man, she must have really pissed someone off.”

“Big time.” I peered across the darkening Pacific and reflected on that which had brought us to Hawaii: a desire to open our own P.I. agency. But the body sprawled across rough wave-soaked rocks begged one crucial question: what did a meteorologist, actress, and scriptwriting assistant know about detecting? So what if they’d played amateur sleuths several months ago during a murder-filled week at an eerie Connecticut mansion? That didn’t grant them the expertise or street smarts to manage a bona-fide case.

. . . But maybe the more imperative question at the moment was: how were they going to explain a simple undercover-case gone terribly wrong?

If you’d like to check us out, you can find us here . . .